So, I’ve been slowly working on a post about navigating circles of friendship in Taiwan, but I’m not feeling like finishing it right now (maybe over the weekend). It’s hard, writing it in such a way to make it clear that I am observing, not complaining, and that I am in no way talking about anyone specific, just citing trends I’ve noticed. I’m having trouble creating a tone that conveys that, so it’s on the shelf for now.
Instead, I’ll do another, easier post I’ve been meaning to cover for awhile – the best places to get DIY products in Taipei. Many of you know that I’m totally into DIY jewelry making; I do other stuff too, but mostly stick to jewelry (I mostly branched out when it came to making stuff for our wedding, because for every piece of cookie-cutter whatever-whatever I found online, I figured I could make one more to my taste – from boutonnieres to corsages to seating cards to table numbers to bridesmaid jewelry to my own jewelry).
I usually get my beads at a small shop in a lane just east of Dihua Street (I can’t find the exact address – the first lane, which I believe is a small street – just east of Yongle Market and walk north just a bit. On the right you’ll pass a lane that houses a small wet market, and where you want to go is the next lane north of that - turn in and it’s about halfway down on the left, across from a shop that sells fringes and ribbons).
The shop also sells real stone beads – if you are willing to get spendy they are behind the counter, and some of the cultured pearls can get expensive. Some strands are more expensive than in Taipei City Mall, so you may want to look there first. Some things I really like here are the large selection of copper-tone beads and workings, the metal-dipped colored glass and the Venetian-glass style beads.
This lane is also great for ribbon lace of all kinds as well as ribbon – the ribbon shop is the best of its lot.
I also get my workings at this shop: the metal bits that hold it all together, such as clasps, jump beads, wires, rods and earring hooks. They also have a good selection of chains and charms including faux keys and you can buy pliers here. I have a pair of needlenose and a pair of fatter, heavier pliers.
For fabric and buttons, I go to Yongle Market. Get your fabric on the 2nd floor, but the button mecca is a small shop on the far south end of the first floor, near the entrance that’s just beyond the outdoor coffee shop and lets out into the lane with the food stalls. For Indian fabric and Thai silk, go to the shop on the 2nd floor of the building with the watch store on the southwest corner of Yanping-Nanjing. Just buzz up if the door is locked.
On the other end of the market, near the street just east of Dihua, the first floor houses the go-to shop for feathers. You can get feathers elsewhere (including inside the market itself just inside the main 2nd floor entrance).
On Dihua itself across the street from Yongle Market you’ll find a shop that sells more beads and other accessories – this is a good place for sew-on patches (they have Chinese dragon patches, which is cool).
Whatever I can’t find here I get in the Yanping-Chang’an area. Just west of Yanping-Chang’an intersection on the north side is a DIY shop that is not as cramped as my favorite one, but is also not that well-organized.
If you head east on Chang’an, Chang’an-Chongqing has a great fake flower and basket shop, for those who are into that sort of thing.
Heading south on Yanping, you’ll pass a DIY shop that has plastic beads (not my thing), lots of yarn and other stuff. I generally walk all the way to Civic Boulevard – on the Yanping-Civic Intersection you’ll find a large shop full of bead, mostly crystals. This is a good place for fake jade if you are looking to make something of that sort. Lots of bracelets that you can cut, take the beads off of, and turn into whatever you want.
Taipei City Mall is also a great place for beads and especially crystals. I can’t even say which shop as the whole thing is so vast and difficult to navigate in terms of remembering what stores are where. I particularly like one shop that sells affordable faux turquoise, real (but low-quality) lapis, real amethysts and interesting charms and pendants. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you just where it is – I believe it’s toward the eastern end and in the southern corridor (there are two corridors separated by more shops), if coming from Taipei Main it’d be on the left. This entire area is the bargain-basement mecca for crystals and real-but-not-stellar-quality stones.
I get my leaf skeletons at Jianguo Weekend Flower Market – the Flower Market is a great place for this and other dried or fake flower DIY stuff, and the jade market, as long as you are careful not to get ripped off, is great for fake jade (don’t even try to buy real jade here) and antique-looking Chinese beads and charms (some might even be real antiques, but don’t bet on it).
I get my paper at Chang-Chun Ever Prosperous Co. paper shop, near Chang’an-Songjiang Intersection (on Chang’an, south side, just east of Songjiang, past Su Ho Paper Museum which also has a nice shop). They sell almost everything you might need at good prices, including Japanese chiyogami paper.
I get all my other stuff – hot glue, regular glue, gold paint and paint pens, cutting implements, ink, paint, brushes, rods etc. around Shi-da – the huge stationery store next to Watson’s in the night market is one good place, and the art shops on the south end of Heping in this area are also great, especially for paint and spray paint. For hot glue, the “everything” shop next to the stationery store can help. Further east, Sheng Li’s 2nd floor (the huge green store on Heping-Fuxing) has a lot of stuff, too, including more leaf skeletons, ribbon, string, paint etc. and gift boxes and bags.
Very occasionally I need sequins or glitter – I like to peruse the more unique offerings at the Hess Bookstore (B1 level) on Minquan/Songjiang. They also have a good selection of fancy gift boxes.
Anyway. I hope this fairly extensive list helps out another fellow DIYer in Taipei who is searching for the perfect beads or needs something weird like leaf skeletons or gold spray paint. Enjoy!